So today marks the birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, a man called by none other than Stephen King "The twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." Considering the source, that's some mighty high praise.
It's also justified. There have certainly been a plethora of influential writers, but I think anyone remotely familiar with the genre can see Lovecraft's influences (though I've run across a few writers who vehemently denied being influenced even as they were following in the man's footsteps.). He's had an impact on Hollywood, on video games, on comic books, television and fiction in general over the years. I will not say he stands alone in his influences, but he most certainly had an impact on me over the years. My short story "A Place Where There is Peace" and the novel DEEPER would not exist without Lovecraft's seminal tale "A Shadow Over Innsmouth," and I daresay a good number of other authors have been heavily influenced over the years. I'll do youi one better: one of my favorite movies of all time is the old classic "The Creature From The Black Lagoon, (Universal, 1954) and I know a lot of other writers who would agree. I don't think that movie could exist in the form that was eventually presented without that very same tale by Lovecraft, and that's just one example of how much influence the man has had over the years.
One of the things I always liked best about Lovecraft (or at least the tales I've heard about him) was that he genuinely seemed to enjoy the notion of having people dabble in the areas where he was defining himself as a writer. He encouraged a good number of younger writers over the course of his life, and he corresponded with many a fellow writer to the point where volumes of his collected letters have been put together over the years and published repeatedly.
Here's the part that like best: 122 years after he was born, I saw dozens, literally dozens, of notes posted to Facebook reminding people that today was his birthday. I like to think Mr. Lovecraft would have been pleasantly surprised by the influence he's had.
Sometime within the next couple of months, by the way, I'll be starting the sequel to DEEPER. It's called FROM A LOWER DEEP and I've already written it in my head. I just have to get it down in a more easily accessible format.
I truly hope I can do justice to Lovecraft's legacy.